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January 14, 2014

The Satmar Glatt Meat That Isn't Really Glatt At All

Chuck-roast"…Nearly a quarter-century ago, in an interview with me, a top official of the Orthodox Union derided the appearance of a category of meat he called 'Satmar super glatt.' By then, there was already a growing demand for glatt kosher meat and, he said, Satmar purveyors sought to capitalize on this by arbitrarily redefining glatt, so that a 'smooth' lung now could have some adhesions. 'Super glatt' was meant for Satmar consumers; the rest of us were being sold 'not-glatt' [under the name of glatt – i.e., the Satmar meat with adhesions; the truly glatt Satmar meat was sold to Satmar butcher shops and providers almost exclusively].…"

Chuck-roast

Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer writes:

…“Glatt” is Yiddish for “smooth,” and refers only to the lungs of an animal. When Rabbi Yosef Karo (the “Beit Yosef”) wrote the Shulchan Aruch, the definitive Jewish law code (for which he is also known as the M’chaber, or “author”), he relied on talmudic precedent to rule that an animal’s lungs had to be completely free of “sirchot,” adhesions, that could indicate hidden problems that would render the animal unfit for kosher use. The lung had to be “chalak,” the Hebrew equivalent for glatt.

Karo, however, was a S’fardi and Ashkenazi practice often differed from what S’fardim do, including in this instance. To accommodate Ashkenazi practice, Rabbi Moses Isserles (the Rema, his acronym) added a gloss to Karo’s work, making it the definitive law code, because it now served both traditions. Regarding meat, Isserles offered a leniency (based on minority opinions in the Talmud). Ashkenazim, he said, could eat meat that contained up to three sirchot, provided each sirchah could be removed by hand without causing a tear in the lung. This meat was considered “stam kosher,” meaning “ordinary kosher,” although “barely kosher” is more accurate. The Rema made it clear that he was not comfortable with his ruling, but that he had no choice, because Ashkenazi acceptance of stam kosher was too well established by then.

Put another way, Isserles actually agreed with Karo, but realized his hands were tied.
Okay, so back to the glatt glut. Do the math. Only about 5 percent of all cattle have lungs that are free from any adhesions whatsoever, much less removable ones.

About 35 million cows are slaughtered annually in the United States. That means that only about 1.75 million will have totally smooth lungs. Because it is impossible to know whether a cow’s lungs are smooth before it is slaughtered, most of those 1.75 million potential glatt meat producers do not end up in the kosher market.

There is more. Only between 40 percent and 50 percent of each cow slaughtered is edible, in any case. The average weight of a cow is about 1,300 pounds, so only about 650 pounds are edible per cow. For the kosher consumer, only the front half of a cow may be eaten. So that means that a 1,300 pound cow produces only about 325 pounds of meat that could be considered kosher. Again, most of that meat does not end up in the kosher market.

So where is all the glatt meat coming from that is being sold in our kosher markets?
It is coming from certification sleight of hand.

Nearly a quarter-century ago, in an interview with me, a top official of the Orthodox Union derided the appearance of a category of meat he called “Satmar super glatt.” By then, there was already a growing demand for glatt kosher meat and, he said, Satmar purveyors sought to capitalize on this by arbitrarily redefining glatt, so that a “smooth” lung now could have some adhesions. “Super glatt” was meant for Satmar consumers; the rest of us were being sold “not-glatt” [under the name of glatt – i.e., the Satmar meat with adhesions; the truly glatt Satmar meat was sold to Satmar butcher shops and providers almost exclusively].

This official also told me of the extraordinary effort the OU had undertaken to keep a glatt kosher purveyor of meats, 999, in business when it was unable to find enough glatt kosher meat to produce its products. The OU worked the phones for nearly six months to locate enough steers for 999 to keep going. The OU, he said, would never resort to redefining glatt.
Only, it did redefine glatt, and it was not alone. Soon, nearly everyone was redefining glatt to a lower standard in order to accommodate the growing demand for glatt kosher meat.

Yet where did this demand come from, considering that for Ashkenazi Jews glatt kosher was not a requirement since the mid-16th century and apparently long before then?

It came from the group I call the “chumrah of the month club,” chumrah being the Hebrew word for stringency. To prove that you are truly observant, the “club” says, you have to go far to the right of acceptable practice. Where keeping kosher is concerned, that means buying glatt kosher meat only.

How chumrot originate and are spread are a mystery, but it is almost certain that those who created the glatt chumrah knew when they did so that there was not enough true glatt around to satisfy the need; 999’s dilemma alone would have told them that.

The problem is not resolvable by simply saying that it is okay to eat meat that is just “kosher” (“stam kosher”). That is because when glatt was redefined, so was “kosher” redefined, and today it probably straddles the category of “questionably kosher” (“safek kosher”).

Kosher-consuming Ashkenazi Jews are paying more for something they do not need and are not getting in any case.…

 

Comments

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Not at all surprising. I have had more than one person in the business admit to me that "Glatt" in many instances is just a marketing ploy. In this day and age of mass production of kosher full inspection of lungs (especially on poultry lines but more and more to the larger animals) simply can't happen. It is hilarious to me that the same folks who pan processors like Hebrew National for not being Glatt submit without argument to randomly sampled inspections that do so label.

Now you got me hungry.

You can now buy Glatt Kosher Chicken ( no such thing as they don't check the lungs of chickens) and Glatt Kosher Cheese. Total nonsense, but the ignorami go for it.

Very interesting!!!

shmarya, what happened to the story you had the other day about the hasid pictured with oscar mayer bacon?
It was up for 1/2 hour or so.....

I ate at a dairy restaurant in Petach Tikvah that had the sign "Glatt Kosher" in the window. My Israeli cousins asked me what the word "Glatt" meant. I explained it meant smooth and that it referred to a cow's lungs during kosher inspection. They asked why a dairy restaurant would be glatt. I told them it was so they could jack up their prices and get away with it.

Coming from Satmar, I wouldn't be surprized if their "glatt" meat was pork or even human fleisch!

Satmar from Romania are gypsies. Deception is their strength

Love the 999 Beef and Veal Italian sausages. The Chief Rebbetzin distains the Szatmar Mealy Mart brand of same, and won't buy 'em.

Ari Gold--Why are you insulting the romanian gypsies?

It's all just an elaborate game - all this nonsense. The frumma jerk each other around with these designations meanwhile ignoring what should be the work of truly religious people - cherishing and protecting their women and children, showing kindness and tolerance to all people. I guess they leave that to the Mother Teresas and Schweitzers of the world - the goyim they despise.

Kashrut aside, I don't want to give money to people who disdain me.

Is the 999 brand still around? I haven't seen their products anywhere in years. Used to love their olive loaf.

The author is a conservative Rabbi who's trying to justify his and his congregation's lack of religious observance. It's meaningless.

Moshe - when someone resorts to attacking the man instead of his argument, it generally means they have no answer.

Thank you for confirming that every word Rabbi Engelmayer wrote is true.

Since they consider other Jews as Gentiles, it doesn't matter to them that they would be serving us trief.

+++Kashrut aside, I don't want to give money to people who disdain me.

Posted by: Yochanan Lavie | January 14, 2014 at 07:30 PM++

Especially when choosing Pesah foods, I ask myself "which one of these makhshirim is less distainful of me?"

Glatt kosher meat is as plentiful as the stars in the sky!

As I vaguely recall, in the Rubashkin Postville era, Rabbi Morris Allen and some other Conservative rabbis specifically ordered STAM Kosher briskets for their synagogues for Pesach. Rubashkin shipped them glatt because that was all they had. Surely, the Rubashkins would never pull a fast one especially on Conservative rabbis.

Locally, one of the stores frequently has briskets from Uruguay at very attractive prices. The mashgiach says they are beit Yosef which makes them glatt but I assume the worst about how they are slaughtered.

Kashrus is a business. Like any business, it will try and get away with predatory pricing if it can get away with it.

The predatory pricing practice which plays a very important for Kashrus business is price to price dumping of meat for the non-Jewish market. The balance of what proportion of meat should be sold to Jews (at a high price) and what proportion of meat should be sold to non-Jews (at a price subsidized by the Jewish consumer but still at a profit to the producer) depends on market factors. Over the last few decades the proportion has changed so as to make it more profitable to increase the amount of meat available to non-Jews which explains why Kashrus standards have got stricter.

This explains why kosher and halal meat industries are bigger than you would expect in the communities they serve.

Normally governments would interfere to prevent such harmful economic practices but for political reasons they do not do so against the religious. However in Europe, animal welfare activists are pushing for ritually slaughtered meat to be labelled which would seriously inhibit such dumping. The Kashrus industry is up in arms to stop this (claiming antisemitism) as it does not wish its presence in the lucrative general market prejudiced.

The author is a conservative Rabbi who's trying to justify his and his congregation's lack of religious observance. It's meaningless.

Posted by: Moshe | January 14, 2014 at 07:57 PM
________________________________________________

I am so tired of this. For two hundred years it's been the same crap. They have a handful of statements they're taught as children to memorize, and they spend their lives repeating them, over and over, like a congregation of parrots. It's beyond tiresome.

The majority of Modern Orthodox are no better. The only ones who don't do it are the left wing MO, but as we see consistently, they, like their right wing brethren, spend their lives longing for Haredi approval.

You'd think there would be the rare Haredi who *doesn't* do it, if only so as not to be seen as a stereotype - but that would require a level of introspection of which they appear to be incapable.

Really, Moshe, I wish to God you people would just shut the hell up already and stay off of websites like this one. Confine yourselves to Vos Iz Neias, Yeshiva World News and your own blogs, talk to one another about how dreadful we all are and let us go to gehinnom in peace.

Moshe,
As usual, your logic is infantile. Why should he have to "justify his lack of religious observance"?

Why do you sit here and try to justify the fact that you don't go to Mass every Sunday? You don't believe in Roman Catholicism (which probably has more validity than what you believe in), the author that you disdain doesn't believe in your invented sham cult religion.

"Orthodox Judaism" is certainly NOT something that any God-fearing person would want to aspire to.

RWisler--Moshe is identical to theese bozo mindless neturei kartas,he moshe also thinks he is the only true toreh jew just like the neturei sign says,the whole universe is revolving around them and only them no one matters in the eyes of god only they,a bunch of megalomaniaks is what they are.

Rebitzman,

Why would they check lungs on a poultry line?

Glatt does not apply to poultry fish.

Steven W wrote :
"I assume the worst about how they are slaughtered."

Uruguay was pressured some time ago by the Israeli Rabbinate to cease using shackle and hoist kosher slaughter.The Rabbinate then said Uruguay could phase in the change in slaughter - a way out. To my knowledge they still use the shackle and hoist method of kosher slaughter which causes extreme pain to the animal.
The meat may be cheap but I doubt it is kosher.

"Why would they check lungs on a poultry line?"

A number of years ago I confronted the Rav HaMachshir at Empire and asked him for the name of the Rabbi who was inspecting the lungs of the chickens they slaughtered. I had showed him one of the Empire packages with "Glatt" on the label. He gave a nervous laugh, shrugged his shoulders and said, "marketing."
The proper term to use for strictly kosher is "Mehadrin" but since most purchasers of kosher poultry are not orthodox and are unfamiliar with the term, companies who want to imply stringency use the term "Glatt."
This is testimony to marketing contributing to the dumbing-down of the Jewish consumer and eroding what should be adherence to higher standards.

Over 20 years ago Yeshiva Chaim Berlin wanted to change their meat supplier. Apparently they weren't happy with the Satmar meat for some reason.
A few big guys from the "Satmar Mafia" showed up wearing guns to intimidate them.

"A few big guys from the 'Satmar Mafia' showed up wearing guns to intimidate them."

Good lord, really? You know this for a fact?

I was told this by someone inside Chaim Berlin

"inside Chaim Berlin"

Sounds like Jewish gay porn.

(Sorry.)

I agree 100% with F.M in reference to the Kashrut industry it's mainly B.S all it is you have some mashciach yenting on his phone I see these guys in action anything goes

Barry –

As far as I know, you are wrong. Agriprocessors had millions of dollars of non-kosher meat in its freezers it couldn't sell and there is never a way that kosher slaughtered meat can be legitimately cheaper than non-kosher slaughtered meat.

Unless there are tax or other incentives involved, what you wrote is impossible.

Jake - exactly! I had someone at Agriprocessors once claim that they did exactly that, then (somewhat contritely) admit that "Glatt" was a marketing designation.

Jeff: "I am so tired of this. For two hundred years it's been the same crap."

What's really funny in this case is that Rabbi Engelmayer (while Conservative) was raised in an Orthodox world and attended yeshiva growing up.

I won't argue but that a great many Conservative Jews DON'T keep kosher, doing so is part and parcel of the tenets of the movements core Jewish values. No Conservative rabbi excuses or makes excuses for their congregants' non-observance here - or anywhere else.

"Agriprocessors had millions of dollars of non-kosher meat in its freezers it couldn't sell "

Until they became extraordinarily unreliable, they sold this meat (at a deep discount) to the Woodman's chain.

Weinstock is a known thug and should have been choked many years ago and put out of business. The Nirbater is a bum who sold out to this lowlife and should also have been shut down long time ago.

@ state of disgust

Sadly, your understanding of Uruguay beef is the same as mine. I wish someone had good news on that front. Before Yom Tov, the local place has a 3 day sale of first cut briskets for about $6.99/lb and then at $7.49 or $7.99/lb for a couple weeks while the other brands are $11.99 or more. That is a serious price difference.

As for our friends at Empire, their website is most entertaining. Under FAQ, there is a heading:

Why is chicken/turkey glatt?

This question is best explained by your rabbi.

And our friends at the Orthodox Union under "The Kosher Primer":

"...Recently, the term “glatt kosher” is increasingly used more broadly as a generic phrase, implying that the product is kosher without question."

On that note, I think I will put some glatt (and cholov Yisroel) cream cheese on my glatt (and Pas Yisroel) bagel for my glatt lox and glatt tomatoes and glatt onions. Not.

Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer wrote "For the kosher consumer, only the front half of a cow may be eaten. So that means that a 1,300 pound cow produces only about 325 pounds of meat that could be considered kosher".

This is plainly wrong. Nikkur Achoraim (Removal of certain blood vessels and fats in the hind quarters) is well known and practised throughout the world, particularly by Sephardi shochets.

The fact that Rabbi Engelmayer does not know this, tends to cast doubt over the veracity of his arguement.

Please.

Stupid, much?

Nikkur achoraim is banned by rabbinic edict in the US and Canada, and that is the region Engelmayer is clearly and specifically talking about.

Being too stupid to know this or too dishonest to admit it makes you waaaaaay to stupid to be criticizing Engelmayer.

Shmarya
With your aggressive comments in relation to my post about Rabbi Engelmayer, I have lost all respect for you.
Too think, I even donated money to support your blog.
I must be"Stupid, much" & "waaaaaay to stupid" to want to do that ever again.

I was even careful in criticising Rabbi Engelmayer's article in a reasoned manner.

The OU have been actively teaching Nikkur Achoraim throughout North America. Here is a link to one article they have on Nikkur Achoraim

http://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-kosher/whats-the-truth-about-nikkur-achoraim/

Apparently, even before the OU conducted training, Deer which are easier to nikkur for hindquarters were sold in various places.

Lets see if you are not "too dishonest to admit" you have made a fundamental mistake in relation to Nikkur Achoraim and not delete this post!

Oh, please.

You have no idea what you're talking about.

Nikkur achoraim is banned in North America by a gezerah. It can NOT be be done on cattle, sheep, or goats.

Deer are not domesticated and fall under a different parameter. They are also almost impossible to slaughter correctly because they are so skittish. If kosher keeping Jews depended on eating deer, they would all starve to death in a few weeks – or become vegetarians.

As for the OU article, it very clearly attests to the fact that communities all over the world, including America, stopped doing nikkur achoraim as far back as the late middle ages.

It also clearly shows that the cost of doing nikkur achoraim is so prohibitive that many communities stopped doing it as soon as they had non-Jews to sell the hindquarters to.

As for your presumptions, to presume as you did that Engelmayer does not know that nikkur achoraim exists is moronic. He clearly does know. But its existence does not matter because it cannot be practiced in commercial slaughter of cattle, goats and sheep and because it costs so much money to do, the cost of glatt kosher meat would rise, not drop, if this were changed. In other words, it is IRRELEVANT to his article.

Now process: far more meat is sold as glatt than is actually glatt.

That is Engelmayer's point, and it is a point I've made several times over the past decade, as well. And the concept of nikkur achoraim does not change that in any way.

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